Serial 470 • SITREP 12

[Editor’s notes: The full text of this text was taken from https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1978STATE295682_d.html.

[This document appears as Serials 60 and 470 in the FBI RYMUR release and as State
Department cable 295682
in the State Department release.]

CONFIDENTIAL

DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Operations Center

(GUYANA WORKING GROUP)

Situation Report No. 12

Situation in Guyana as of 0715 Hours (EST), November 21, 1978

Based on information received from the Guyanese authorities, Embassy Georgetown has transmitted the names of 174 of the deceased. The SCA team has begun notifying the next of kin. Apparently, some elements of the press have received the same list. However, the department will not be releasing the names to the media.

Very few survivors have been located in the Jonestown area thus far, perhaps no more than 20. Counting these, close to 70 People’s Temple members are now in Georgetown. Some of these were not in Jonestown on Saturday. U.S. military authorities believe they have sufficient facilities and personnel in Georgetown in the event of any influx of survivors.

Larry Layton, the person named as the one who started the shooting, is in Georgetown in custody of the police. To the Embassy’s knowledge, he has not been charged, but is obviously being treated as a suspect. The People’s Temple members in Georgetown appear to be divided into two groups, one group staying at the Georgetown police headquarters and the other elsewhere in town. Three are still in the hospital. Police officials have informed the Embassy that they prefer to keep all persons connected with the People’s Temple organization available in the country for “two or three days”.

USAF planes continue to arrive in Georgetown bearing equipment, supplies and support personnel. The U.S. military commander there reports that the Guyanese Defense Force representatives have been most cordial and helpful. Because of space limitations at the Georgetown airport, turnaround time is being held to the minimum. The aircraft carrying the graves identification unit and equipment has been delayed because of mechanical problems and now will not be arriving in Georgetown until 0430 Georgetown time. We have formally requested DOD to provide transportation to the United States for People’s Temple survivors who desire to leave Guyana.

AID is continuing to investigate the possibility of assisting the Guyanese government to replace, on a temporary lease basis, the twin Otter damaged during the attack on Congressman Ryan’s party. The GOG [Government of Guyana] has also requested some spare parts for aircraft in its military inventory. We have asked the Embassy to provide additional identifying information on the parts. DOD may have the items; however, the question of how they will be paid for remains to be resolved. The latest word from AID is that regulations prohibit AID from funding military transportation equipment.

Guyanese Ambassador [Laurence “Bonny”] Mann is scheduled to call on Acting Secretary [Warren] Christopher on November 22 at 2:30 p.m. we expect that the purpose of the call will be for the ambassador to express condolences and offer the continuing cooperation of his government. Mr. Christopher may have an opportunity to press for a Guyanese invitation for a visit by an FBI team. The FBI is very anxious to assist the Guyanese government in its investigation of the People’s Temple incident. An FBI team was en route yesterday, but was pulled off the plane at the last moment, at the request of Guyanese Minister [Hamilton] Green, who informed the ambassador that the presence of the FBI team would present a political problem for the government.

The staff director of the House International Relations Committee has informed H that Chairman [Clement] Zablocki will be sending a letter to the Department containing many questions about the department’s role prior to the events in Guyana. Staffers are now working on the questions, which likely will cover all issues raised in the press and more. A decision on possible hearings will be made after receipt of the department’s response.

In response to a request from the Vice President’s office, we have determined that the Vice President did not send a letter of support to People’s Temple leader Jones. According to Christopher Nascimiento, a Guyanese official now in New York, the quotes in a People’s Temple booklet attributed to Vice President Mondale were taken from statements the Vice President supposedly made, possibly during the 1976 campaign in California.

Stephen R. Gibson, ARA
Guyana Working Group

Tom Renders
Senior Watch Officer

Originally posted on March 24th, 2019.

Last modified on March 30th, 2021.
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